The church of Jesus Christ in every generation is given the weighty charge to proclaim and preserve the Word of Truth. What we believe about the Bible will shape how we live, how we worship, and how we seek to educate our children and grandchildren. Does the sufficiency of the Bible matter today? Should we be concerned by the lack of confidence in the Bible in our present evangelical culture?
Have you considered the lack of Bible reading in a typical worship service in our present day? Have you talked with your friends outside of your church about their family worship patterns? If you use the word “catechism” outside of a church or conference setting today, you may receive strange looks of complete confusion. The fact is, we are living in a day where the Bible has become the most popular book of history and yet the most irrelevant book among the culture.
The English Bible Throughout History
John Wycliffe labored to get the Bible into the English language and gave his life to that pursuit. It has been said that if Luther and Calvin were the fathers of the Reformation, Wycliffe would be its grandfather. Wycliffe was charged with heresy and despised by the Roman Catholic Church. Years after Wycliffe’s death, the Pope ordered that his bones were to be exhumed and taken out of consecrated ground. They dug up his bones, burned them, and then scattered them into the Swift River. Where did his charge of heresy arise? It was due to the fact that Wycliffe labored to get the Bible into the common man’s language and he was hated for it.
The followers of Wycliffe became known as Lollards (a derogatory term meaning “tongue wagger”). According to John Foxe, seven men (Lollards) were burned at the stake in 1519 for teaching their children the Lord’s prayer in English. John Bale (1495-1563) said that he had witnessed a boy in Norwich being burned for possessing the Lord’s prayer in English. When we consider the amount of blood that has been shed in order to get the Bible into the common language of the common man, it’s astounding.
In 1526, William Tyndale took his manuscript of the English New Testament to a printer in the city of Worms. It was the first English Bible to be translated directly from the Greek text. It was printed using a printing press and distributed into England in bales of cotton. After a season as a fugitive on the run, he was located and captured in 1535. In August of 1536, Tyndale stood trial for his translation of the Bible into the English language. On October 6th, 1536, Tyndale was taken to the place of execution. He was given just a brief moment to pray. They asked him to recant and he refused. The guards tied his feet to the bottom of a wooden beam and his neck was bound by a chain. They took straw and other small pieces of wood that would easily catch fire and positioned it beneath Tyndale’s body. As the guard pulled the chain and began to choke Tyndale, he cried aloud these famous words, “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes.” They continued to choke Tyndale. Another man took a wax torch and set fire to the brush and straw. The body of Tyndale was consumed with a blaze of fire instantly. What was the charge? Tyndale was a rebel to the authority of Rome. He believed that the Bible should be in the common farmer’s language. He gave his life to that end. We today have become the direct beneficiaries of his labor.
The Bible – Today
As we survey church history, we should be reminded that the Bible matters. It has always mattered. Today is no different. We cannot live life disconnected from the Bible. The terror of ISIS and the decision of the Mayor of Atlanta to fire the chief of the Fire Department are both directly connected to the Bible. The political debates of homosexuality and abortion have their roots in the Bible. The attack of Kurt Eichenwald upon the Bible in his article published in Newsweek magazine at the end of 2014 is a clear reminder that the Bible matters today!
If the Bible is holy, inerrant, inspired, infallible, authoritative, sufficient, and clear – shouldn’t our life demonstrate that reality? How can a church claim to have a high view of the Bible while continuing to severely limit Bible reading in their weekly worship gatherings? If we believe the Bible and know it to be the very Word of God, it will determine how we preach it, read it, and obey it. The bookshelves of history are lined with books written by man. However, the Bible stands as King in the library of human history. The Bible is a book that remains relevant throughout the ages, transcends cultures, and remains the sufficient guide to light the paths of life (Psalm 119:105).
The war upon the Word today will continue to center upon the relevance and sufficiency of the Bible. Entertainers are eager to profit from God’s Word, but they are not interested in protecting the pure doctrines of the Bible when they make movies or write books. We must be reminded that Hollywood will always bow to the dollar. The entertainment industry as a whole must attract people’s attention, sell their products, and remain successful in the process. Honoring the truth of God’s Word will not be a priority for entertainers who remain positioned for success and profit.
Before reading a book such as Heaven Is For Real, we should ask ourselves this probing question, “Why do we need books like Heaven Is For Real?” As long as we have books that insist upon giving new revelations, we will continue to doubt the sufficiency of God’s Word. We already know Heaven is real. We already know God exists. We already know that God exists in Trinitarian form. These are truths that we have come to know from God’s Word. Therefore, we don’t need a little boy’s account to reaffirm it. In the words of Abraham, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them” (Luke 16:29).
The perspicuity of the Bible should encourage us. As believers, God will provide us clarity, wisdom, and knowledge as we read the Word. As the Bible is preached and explained, we should teach our children to cherish it. If our children are bored with God’s Word it’s likely due to the fact that we have become bored with it. Even in a digital age of moving symbols, smart phones, digital applications, and much more – we should lead by example. The Bible has one unified voice – the voice of God. The Bible has one purpose – the glory of God. The Bible has one hero – the Son of God. The Bible has one mission – the salvation of sinners. The Bible is not a boring old dusty book. It is the Word of God. Let us be reminded of David’s resolve about God’s Word. David was not bored with the Word of God or the God of the Word.
Psalm 19:7-11: The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;  the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;  the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.  More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.  Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
The most irrelevant thing we could say is that the Bible is irrelevant. History has proven beyond doubt that the Bible is relevant. What the Bible says matters to the church, the world of science, the academy, and national leaders around the world. Why does the Bible continue to turn heads? It goes back to what John Calvin once said years ago. He said, “When the Bible speaks, God speaks.” Therefore, for the Bible to be irrelevant is for God to be irrelevant.
May the Lord wake up His sleeping church with a resurgence of blazing hearts who earnestly desire to preach the good news of King Jesus. We must return to a full commitment to the sufficiency of the Bible.